Security Clearance for IT Contractors
IT contractors working with, or having access to, sensitive or classified information will need to be security cleared before they can start work.
In the interests of national security, Government guidance states that those working in connection with ‘sensitive assets’ at risk from terrorism, espionage and serious crime, will need to undergo checks that provide assurance on that person’s identity, reliability, trustworthiness and integrity.
Clearance is therefore required if you’ve secured a contract working on a classified project. The Ministry of Defence or Armed Forces, but also some other Government departments will require IT contractors to be security vetted. In terms of the private sector, contractors working on Government related IT projects may also require contractors to go through the vetting process.
Security clearance was carried out by the Defence Vetting Agency, ‘DVA’ (or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Vetting Unit), before January 2017. Since January 2017, the main UK government provider of security clearances is UKSV – United Kingdom Security Vetting.
Once clearance is granted it is only valid for a set period and therefore does not guarantee future reliability. Contractors will therefore see their clearance reviewed on a regular basis to reflect their circumstances.
There are different levels of security clearance, with the ‘Baseline Standard’ checks underpinning the 3 levels of national security vetting: SC, CTC and DV level - the more sensitive a role is deemed to be, the more thorough the vetting process.
In order to start the vetting process you’ll need a sponsor, i.e. the organization offering you a contract role requiring clearance.
Since the checks usually take several weeks, those IT contractors already in possession of unexpired clearance will have an advantage, particularly for urgent requirements, although the DVA are clear on their position that contractors without clearance shouldn’t otherwise be expected to hold existing security clearance in order to apply for roles.